light Sergeant Robin Edgell Barnard, the son of Wilfred Bourne Barnard and Mabel Ellen Mamie Barnard (nee Edgell), was born at Rockhampton in Queensland on 24th January 1913. He was educated at the Toowoomba Grammar School during the period July 1924 until December 1926. He then attended The Armidale School during the years 1927 until 1931. He applied for aircrew training in the Royal Australian Air Force on 19th April 1940. After leaving school he entered employment in the sheep grazing industry and studied Farm & Station Bookkeeping by correspondence with Hemingway & Robertson in Sydney. He was enrolled in the Reserve of the Royal Australian Air Force on 28th May 1940 after swearing an oath of allegiance.
Flight Sergeant Robin Barnard at the age of 27 years and 7 months enlisted into the Citizen Air Force of the R.A.A.F. at No. 3 Recruiting Centre in Brisbane on 13th September 1940 after giving an undertaking that he would serve for the duration of the war and an additional twelve months. His physical description at the time of enlistment was that he was 5 feet 11 inches in height and weighed 155 pounds. He had a medium complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. He stated that he was of the Church of England religion. He gave his next of kin as his mother, Mrs Mabel Barnard, Post Office Box 12, The Summit, Queensland. He also gave his brother, Mr Bayard Edgell Barnard, “Mossvale”, The Summit, as next of kin.
Flight Sergeant Robin Barnard was allotted the service number of 404464 and he joined No. 2 Initial Training School at Lindfield in New South Wales on 16th September 1940 where he learned the basics of service life. He joined No. 1 Wireless & Air Gunners School at Ballarat in Victoria on 17th October 1940. He joined No. 1 Bombing & Gunnery School at Evans Head in New South Wales on 5th April 1941. After completing his Wireless Operator/Air Gunner training he was remustered as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner and promoted to the rank of Temporary Sergeant when he joined No. 3 Embarkation Depot at Sandgate in Queensland on 6th May 1941. He joined No. 2 Embarkation Depot at Bradfield Park in Sydney on 20th June 1941 to prepare for movement overseas to the Middle East on attachment to the Royal Air Force. He embarked from Australia for the Middle East on 27th June 1941 and after arriving in the Middle East he joined No. 70 Operational Training Unit on 3rd September 1941 where he completed the Blenheim Operations Course during the period 23rd September until 8th November 1941. He had been promoted to the rank of Flight Sergeant on 6th November 1941. He joined the Middle East Pool on 12th November 1941. He was transferred to the Air Headquarters in India on 2nd December 1941. He joined No. 113 Squadron for operational duties on 10th December 1941.
Flight Sergeant Robin Barnard was a crew member of a Blenheim IV aircraft V5938 that was lost during an attacking raid on shipping at Akyab in Burma on 9th September 1942. His mother was advised by telegram on 15th September 1942 that her son was missing as a result of air operations. Subsequent information supplied by Flying Officer Bassingthwaighte who participated in the raid stated:
Approximately one minute after our attack on enemy shipping in Akyab Harbour on 9th September 1942, our formation was attacked by four enemy fighters for 23 minutes. At the end of this time Flying Officer Loane’s Blenheim V5938 was last seen with a fighter on its tail at very close range as we entered cloud. Position approximately 60 miles from Akyab.
After the war investigations were carried out in all theatres of war to trace the remains of deceased servicemen and women. On 10th May 1946 Robin Barnard’s sister, Mrs M.S. Stephens, “Greenacres”, Broadbeach via Surfers Paradise received the following letter from the Casualty Section of the R.A.A.F.:
Dear Madam, It is with deep regret that I have to inform you that the Air Ministry, London, has presumed for official purposes that your brother, Flight Sergeant Robin Edgell Barnard, lost his life on the 9th September 1942. I regret that no further news of your brother has been obtained since this Department’s last communication to you. In the circumstances, it is considered that all hope of finding him alive must be abandoned. Since my last letter, a statement has been obtained from a survivor of another Blenheim aircraft engaged on the same operation, which was shot down into the sea. He states that he was informed by the Japanese that five British aircraft had been shot down on this occasion.
He believes that all survivors were brought into Akyab by the Japanese and he is certain that your brother was not among those brought in. He was for over two years in Rangoon Gaol which was the clearing house for prisoners of war in Burma, and he heard no news of your brother or the other members of the crew. The Air Ministry, upon which devolves the responsibility for the search for members missing in the Far East and for presuming their deaths, has established a research organisation whose activities will be continued for some considerable time, and every effort will be made to obtain information which may give you the comfort of more definite knowledge of the manner in which your brother lost his life. The Minister for Air and members of the Air Board desire me to extend to you their profound sympathy.
Robin Barnard has no known grave, therefore his name is recorded on the Singapore Memorial for the missing. At the time of his death Robin Barnard was 29 years of age. His name is commemorated on Panel No. 118 at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and locally on the Toowoomba Grammar School World War 2 Honour Board. For his service during World War 2, he was most likely awarded the 1939/1945 Star, the Africa Star, the Burma Star, the War Medal and the Australian Service Medal 1939/1945.
Toowoomba Grammar School archive records show that he enrolled as a day student on 1st July 1924 and that he left the School on 2nd December 1926. His parent was shown as Mr Wilfred Bourne Barnard, “Kooroola”, The Range, Toowoomba.